A glimpse into the past is still a glimpse.

sharkie-heart  asked:

Hi!! I was wondering if you have a list, or know of some interesting or unique raptors? I really REALLY love them, and I want to learn more about their genus and evolutionary branch!

I like raptors a lot, too! They’re some of my favorite dinosaurs.

A decent place to start for a list is the #raptor tag over at @a-dinosaur-a-day. There’s also Wikipedia – both the dromaeosaurid page and the timeline of research have some fairly up-to-date information.

But here’s a few I think are particularly interesting:

  • The unenlagiine subgroup had very long snouts and slender limbs, and may have been wading fish-eaters like modern herons. They include some of the smallest known raptors like Buitreraptor, and also one of the largest, Austroraptor.
  • The microraptorians include the “four-winged” gliders like Microraptor. We also know about the feather colors of some of them – Microraptor itself was a glossy iridescent black, while Sinornithosaurus was a mixture of reddish-brown, yellow, black and grey.
  • Mahakala, Tianyuraptor and Zhenyuanlong had unusually tiny arms, and the latter also preserves long wing and tail feathers.
  • The famous Velociraptor had quill knobs on its arm bones, evidence of large feathers. It was probably nocturnal, and while it occasionally got into fights with Protoceratops it also sometimes scavenged from carcasses. Despite how stiffly its tail is normally depicted, one specimen suggests that it might have actually had some degree of flexibility in life.
  • Fossilized eggshells have been found associated with a specimen of Deinonychus, in a position that suggests it may have been brooding on a nest when it died. It was also the main subject of a study on the uses of raptors’ distinctive sickle claws – they were probably used for holding down small prey while eating it alive.
  • Utahraptor was possibly the largest known raptor at over 6m long, and also had some weird body proportions compared to its close relatives – a bulky body, short tail, stocky limbs, and an oddly curved lower jaw. A big slab containing at least six skeletons is currently being excavated and studied (supported by crowdfunding!), so more discoveries are still waiting to be made.
  • Another large raptor, Dakotaraptor, had quill knobs similar to those seen in Velociraptor, showing that even the “giant” raptors still had well-developed feathers. Two different adult body shapes are seen in its fossils, which might be evidence of sexual dimorphism.

Plotosaurus at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles.

Plotosaurus was a genus of Mosasaur from late Cretaceous (Maastrichtian) California. It has two known species, P. bennisoni (the species mounted in the photo) and P. tuckeri.

Plotosaurus is also considered to be one of the most derived Mosasaurs, and perhaps one of the fastest swimmers as well. It’s caudal (tail) fin was larger in comparison to it’s body size than other Mosasaurs, it’s flippers were a lot thinner, and it’s body was a lot more streamlined.

Anzu wyliei

Perhaps better known by its colorful nickname, the “Chicken from Hell,” Anzu wyliei is a bird-like oviraptorosaurian dinosaur. More specifically, it is a member of the Caenagnathidae, a poorly understood group of oviraptorosaurs that lived mainly in North America during the Cretaceous Period. Anzu has distinctive characteristics that are not found in any other dinosaur, plus other typically oviraptorosaurian features such as a crested skull and a toothless beak. It grew to a length of at least nine feet and had a relatively short tail and long, spindly legs with three-toed feet. Its long arms featured sharp, hooked claws that may been used to catch prey or for protection.

With a name that translates to “Wylie’s feathered demon,” this dinosaur presents numerous riddles to scientists. Due to the shape of its toothless jaws, it is unknown if Anzu was a carnivore, like most other theropod dinosaurs, or if it was a plant eater. Anzu may even have been an omnivore, eating both plants and small animals.

Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s two skeletons of Anzu are the most complete oviraptorosaur specimens yet found in the Western Hemisphere. Museum scientists and their collaborators are continuing to study the dinosaur’s bones to gain a better understanding of the species. Because the real fossils are extremely fragile, more so than those of most other dinosaurs on display, the skeleton on exhibit is a cast. It is a combination of replicas of the museum’s two real specimens, which were discovered in the late 1990s in ~66 million-year-old rocks belonging to the Hell Creek Formation in Harding County, South Dakota. Anzu wyliei was named in 2014 by Carnegie Museum paleontologist Matt Lamanna and three of his colleagues.

Camptosaurus aphanoecetes

Camptosaurus aphanoecetes, which means “flexible lizard hiding in plain sight,” was a medium-sized plant-eating dinosaur that lived about 145–150 million years ago during the late Jurassic Period. Remains of Camptosaurus have been found in North America and, according to some paleontologists, in England as well. Although the Camptosaurus skeleton on display at Carnegie Museum of Natural History was discovered in 1922, it wasn’t studied in detail until relatively recently.

On exhibit in Pittsburgh for more than six decades, still half buried in Jurassic sandstone, the skeleton was fully removed from the rock in 2005–2006 to transform it into a three-dimensional mount. After the specimen was completely unearthed, it was discovered to show differences with fossils of the dinosaur species it was long thought to represent, Camptosaurus dispar. So, in 2008, the skeleton was established as the type, or name-bearing, specimen of the new species Camptosaurus aphanoecetes by scientists Kenneth Carpenter and Yvonne Wilson.

This Camptosaurus skeleton was excavated by Earl Douglass and his field crew from rocks belonging to the Morrison Formation in the Carnegie Quarry at Dinosaur National Monument in Utah. Today it is on display at Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Photo Credit: Joshua Franzos for Carnegie Museum of Natural History


I made this paleontology video for a contest and I’m insanely proud over it. It felt great to edit with something I love so much!


Chemistry and Corpses: The Science of Bog Studies

Illustration from Alte und neue Welt, 1873

Look at this parade under your feet, my son! Forms lovely and lurid, monstrous and sublime! Complexities unfolding, revealing, recombining, blossoming in the dawn gardens of this old world. Here are swimmers, flyers, creepers, and hulks, frolicking and fighting, breeding and feeding, roles accorded for each anatomy. Iguanodon and Deinotherium patrol their terrestrial kingdoms, Pterodactylus and Meganeura own skies with outstretched wings, and ostracoderms and trilobites plow sea-mud fields for detritus and other lowly delicacies. As every age has elapsed, a new one has arrived, burying the old, celebrating the new, until it, too, has become outmoded and passes into that splendid eternity. So, too, dear son, shall you and I.

Pokemon Explained: Anorith and Armaldo

First off, I have to say that this article exists because of a suggestion by my awesome friend Cabooceratops. It was a pretty good suggestion, since Anorith’s one of those really cool Pokemon with an obscure inspiration.

The Anorith line is one of the two fossil Pokemon lines from the third generation of the series. Much like Gen I, the fossils were not based on the more commonly known reptiles of the Mesozoic, but on the many bizarre prehistoric sea creatures. Anorith is specifically based on Anomalocaris. Hit the jump for weirdness.

Keep reading

Fossilized dinosaur feces is challenging some basic assumptions about dinosaur eating habits.

Hadrosaurs, a kind of duck-billed dinosaur, are among the most common herbivores of the Cretaceous period. But new research suggests that actually, these animals also chowed down on crustaceans.

The prehistoric snacking was likely intentional and linked to mating behaviors, seeking some extra protein and calcium to help with egg development.

Shellfish Surprise: Common ‘Herbivore’ Dinosaur Found To Snack On Crustaceans

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images